Theater group hopes play will spark conversation about race relations

Theater group hopes play will spark conversation about race relations

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Alton Sterling may be laid to rest, but the events surrounding his death have left the community with much to deal with.

A group of students and area professionals are turning to art, which they hope will fuel a conversation about race relations.

More than a week after Sterling was shot and killed, a group of students and local professionals is performing Hands Up: Seven Playwrights, Seven Testaments. The play dives deep into race relations and racial profiling.

Director Chris Berry said it was planned well before the recent events in Baton Rouge, but the message is one that resonates now more than ever.

"It's a place where art can serve as a way for a community to heal and art can serve as a place where a community can speak out and have something onstage that's indicative of a voice that they want to let out," Berry said.

The production is presented from the perspective of six black playwrights and focuses on the death of Michael Brown. For actress Dorrian Wilson, the message is personal and one that she said applies to anyone who has lost their life to violence.

"So many other people have the exact same story, except they don't have a hashtag, so I don't know that I feel like they're different because the commonality is the same," Wilson said.

While sometimes touching on uncomfortable topics, the play offered some members of the cast a chance to reflect.

"It made me think a lot about my own life, you know, like being a black male," said Christian Jones. "To be in this production at this point in time was just like, I think it was meant for me to be in this production."

Others say the opportunity to inspire others and create positive change is something they do not take lightly.

"I'm honored," Wilson added. "I feel like it's a blessing and a gift to be given the opportunity to be this sort of vessel."

When the lights fade, the goal behind the piece is to spark a conversation about equality and justice.

"The only thing that made it different is that now it's actually happened in our backyard, in our community," said Romeraux Allen.

These young actors say the dialogue about racial injustice is something that is desperately needed in Baton Rouge and beyond. The play was presented by New Venture Theatre. More information about the group can be found here.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.